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Coronavirus (COVID-19): court and procedural updates

A page to provide updates from the courts and on procedural guidance during the coronavirus outbreak. This page was last updated on 12 July 2020 at 9:00 PM

Key Resources


Updated guidance from the Civil Circuit (recent)

Birkenhead County Court

  • Infant approvals – new procedure from 1 Juneletter outlining details of new procedure for infant approvals in Birkenhead from 1 June. They will take place remotely on the telephone. 21/5/20

  • Block applications for stays update – Many of the block lists on stays that were listed have either been adjourned or relisted. After further consideration however the District Judges have decided that these hearing will now take place by telephone and they will, over the next week or so, be re-listed and the court will be sending out new notices of hearing.  A copy of the order that will be going out on all of these cases can be found here. 21/5/20

  • Protocol for conducting Stage 3 HearingsGuidance for advocates.17/4/20

Birmingham High Court (QB) & County Court - This updated local guidance provides some general information about cases proceeding at Birmingham High Court (Queen’s Bench Division) and Birmingham County Court. It does not apply to proceedings in the Business and Property Courts, the Administrative Court or the Upper Tribunal. Kindly reproduced here by St Philips Barristers.18/5/20

Birmingham Business & Property Courts – standard directions order amended – The Birmingham B&PCs have revised their Standard Directions Order, largely to reflect the use of remote hearings during the COVID-19 outbreak, particularly in relation to the suitability of remote hearings and pre-trial reviews. 24/6/20

Commercial Court - hearings - see email from the Commercial Bar Association (COMBAR) detailing changes from 1 June 2020 to be introduced in the arrangements for hearings in the Rolls Building. As from that date there are likely to be four kinds of hearing taking place: (i) fully remote hearings with the Judge at home; (ii) remote hearings with the Judge in their office or Court in the Rolls Building; (iii) hybrid hearings with the Judge and some participants in Court, and some participating remotely; and (iv) normal physical hearings in which all the participants attend in person. The decision as to which sort of hearing is appropriate in a given case will be a judicial decision but the majority of hearings will probably continue to take place remotely. 20/5/20

Cumbria and Lancashire – Letter from HHJ Jacqueline Beech regarding a staged return to face to face hearings and the availability of the court estate for face to face hearings. See Tweet from the Northern Circuit which links to the letter and accompanying orders. 22/5/20

Liverpool Civil Court - The Northern Circuit has tweeted the latest Covid Guidance (pdf) from HHJ Wood in Liverpool. This further guidance for local practitioners and court users of Liverpool civil court, is an overview of the procedures and protocols being put in place to deal with civil court business, particularly trials, in the county court over the next few months and replaces the two previous guidance notes provided on 21st March and 2nd April. Unlike the previous guidance, this applies only to Liverpool and not other courts on the cluster (Chester, St. Helens, Birkenhead and Crewe) which are currently staff only courts, although this picture is likely to change in the very near future with individual courts providing their own guidance. 27/5/20

Manchester Civil Justice Centre

  • New - 9/7/20 - HHJ Bird has sent out an updating note on civil trials at Manchester. Note, in particular, the requirement for parties who want adjournments and the requirement to give evidence in support of applications. Note and Order kindly reproduced by Gordon Exall here.

  • Partial re-opening of the Civil Courts in Manchester: important guidance from the Designated Civil Judge - HHJ Bird, the DJC for Manchester, has sent out detailed guidance on the next steps being taken to re-open the Civil Justice Centre in Manchester starting from the 15th June 2020. Reproduced in full by Gordon Exall in the above link. 4/6/20

  • Clinical Negligence and Serious Personal Injury Protocol – Urgent Matters - The Court has set up a dedicated email address for urgent CNSPI matters and are encouraging practitioners to make use of it, where appropriate. The DCJ asked that the Note on this new initiative be circulated to Northern Circuit Practitioners. These new arrangements will be effective from Monday 4 May 2020. 28/4/20

Manchester Business & Property Courts

  • Hearings during the COVID-19 Pandemic before Circuit & District Judges: this guidance is provided further to the Position Summary and Guidance for Urgent Applications from the Vice-Chancellor dated 31 March, 2020. It is intended to provide guidance about the procedure for arranging hearings before a BPC circuit or district judge in Manchester on the basis on which such hearings will be conducted. This includes the hearing of matters that have already been listed for hearing. Link to guidance on Dropbox (pdf). 20/4/20

  • New guidance as to service of bundles, skeleton articles and authorities. See pdf. 30/4/20

North & West Yorkshire – HHJ Gosnell has issued new guidance which Gordon Exall has reproduced on his blog. From the introduction: "The purpose of this document is to update you on events since my last update on 6th April 2020. Amended Civil Listing Priorities in the County Court – Covid-19 was published on 14th May 2020. It can be found on the judiciary.uk website.  This sets out the priority work which must be done and other work which should be done. It also deals with how Judges should decide whether to conduct a hearing or trial remotely or with a physical hearing in a court building (which I will call “face to face” hearings). In the light of the currently improving national picture and anticipating further gradual relaxation of the “lockdown” provisions I have decided that we will start listing certain trials for hearing on a face to face basis from 8th June 2020." 22/5/20

St Helens County Court – Fast Track trials from 6 July and PTRs - St Helens will be re-commencing hearing of Fast Track trials in the week commencing 6th July 2020. Certain suitable small claims trials may also be listed. There will be a PTR and fixture listing hearing a week before trial. The purpose of the hearings is for trials which are going to settle, to do so – trial bundles will need to have been supplied and counsel instructed for the trial will need to attend and must already have the trial bundle. Read the full notice and PTRFLH Order on the Manchester Law Society website, 5/6/20

Western Circuit – Protocol for Civil Claims Pump Court Chambers has published the Circuit Protocol for Civil Claims that have been agreed by all three DCJs for the courts on the Western Circuit. It provides important guidance on the use of remote hearings and within it are new protocols for fast and multi-track Trials between the 1st June & 1st October 2020. Read more. 2/6/20


Additional June / July updates

Coronavirus recovery in Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service (press release) – On 1 July, the Lord Chancellor set out the progress being made to recover the operations of the courts and tribunals in response to the pandemic. More details can be found in:

Queen's Bench Division Bulletin and Guidance

Enter the ‘New Normal’: Key Takeaways from the Birmingham Business and Property Court User Meeting on 15th June 2020 - On Monday 15th June 2020, the Birmingham Business & Property Court held its latest online Court Users Meeting and welcomed The Chancellor of the High Court, Lord Justice Vos along with Mr Justice Marcus Smith.  A summary of the key points discussed at the meeting, kindly noted by Raghav Trivedi. 26/6/20

HMCTS - Online event: Use of remote hearings during the coronavirus outbreak - Wednesday 15 July. This webinar focuses on how HMCTS have expanded their use of technology to hold, subject to judicial discretion, more video and audio hearings across all jurisdictions. It will also cover forthcoming plans for the use of new technology. The panel will show a demonstration of how it works and offer an opportunity for you to ask any questions. See here for details of how to register. 24/6/20

Commercial Court user’s group: latest minutes - Includes: update on hearings generally, with Teare J reporting how smooth the transition from physical to remote hearings has been, with almost all the Court’s work being conducted notwithstanding the Covid 19 pandemic; stats re fall-off in business (actions commenced and hearings); managing the return of live hearings; particular issues; practical points for trials; Covid related cases. 24/6/20

COMBAR Guidance on Remote Hearings - 2nd edition -  the Commercial Bar Association has updated its Guidance on Remote Hearings to take account of feedback received in respect of the edition and to take account of the transition to hybrid hearings. You can find the updated Guidance Note including the updated specimen PTR checklist in the link above. 23/6/20

Call for evidence - Constitutional implications of COVID-19: Courts – The House of Lords Constitution Committee, as part of its inquiry, Constitutional implications of COVID-19, announced a call for evidence regarding the response of courts and tribunals to the COVID-19 outbreak, and the resulting impact on the future of the justice system. Submission deadline is 20 August at noon. 8/6/ 20.

Civil Justice Council report on the impact of COVID-19 on civil court users published - The Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, has welcomed the Civil Justice Council’s rapid review of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the civil justice system, particularly the swift expansion of the use of remote hearings. The review, launched on 1 May 2020 and concluded on 15 May 2020, was particularly aimed at court users whose hearings took place between 1 May and 7 May 2020. The report provides a valuable snapshot of the effect of the pandemic on civil court users relatively soon after the pandemic began and will form a useful basis for further research and review in due course. Final Report and Appendices can be found in the above link. Also see Litigation Futures article and Gazette coverage. 5/6/20

Furloughed Employees' participation in proceedings - Nottingham Law Society - Civil Court Users Committee Bulletin - New guidance has been published following  Fottles v Bourne Leisure, in which HHJ Godsmark QC, whilst allowing an application to vacate, stated that he would not have allowed an adjournment on the grounds that the defendant’s witnesses were employees who were currently furloughed – Also see Civil Litigation Brief Coronavirus law: Furloughed employees giving evidence at court is not “work” 5/6/20

Interest rate reductions on the Court Funds Office special and basic accounts from today (1 June 2020) - Due to the impact of Covid-19, the Bank England reduced the base rate to 0.1% on 19 March 2020 as an emergency measure and made a decision on 07 May 2020 to maintain that rate until further notice. In response to this, the Lord Chancellor has reviewed the Court Funds Office (CFO) rates of interest payable to clients and has directed that from Monday 1 June 2020 these will change to the following: Special Account – reduces from 0.5% to 0.1%; Basic Account – reduces from 0.1% to 0.05%.1/6/20

Royal Courts of Justice Fees Office update - The Royal Courts of Justice Fees Office has announced that, from Monday 1 June 2020, it will reopen to the public between 10.00 am and 2.00 pm each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Access to the Fees Office will be by appointment only. For case-specific queries court users can contact the appropriate department using the designated email addresses provided. 1/6/20


Additional May updates

Document Upload Centre - this week's (25 May) HMCTS weekly operational summary provides new guidance from HMCTS (pdf) and the Queen's Bench Division (pdf) relating to a Document Upload Centre which enables court users to upload court documents (bundles) for use in a court hearing. It is currently unclear whether this will be available yet more widely than the QBD. 25/5/20

General Guidance on PDF bundles - Mann J provides guidance on PDF bundles in order to achieve a level of useful consistency in the provision of PDF bundles for use by judges in hearings. 20/5/20

Crime – Crown Court – video conferencing platform - HMCTS rollout plans for cloud video platform for video enabled criminal hearings - HMCTS is rolling out video conferencing technology to all Crown courts in England and Wales to enable some criminal hearings to be held by video. The cloud video platform (CVP) system connects securely to the existing justice video network, linking police stations and prisons to courts. Details the timetable for when CVP is scheduled to be available. 18/5/20

Northern Circuit – Essential reading for Civil Practitioners – Remote hearings - Manchester CJC - This guidance has been prepared by the Northern Circuit and the Manchester Law Society and is aimed at providing definitive guidance for solicitors and barristers undertaking civil work in the Manchester Civil Justice Centre. This document has been approved by the Designated Civil Judge and the Manchester Circuit and District Judiciary. All practitioners are expected to have read it and to comply with it wherever possible. Link to their tweet here which links to the Guidance (pdf). 15/5/20

New Civil Listing Priorities – Coulson LJ has issued amended civil listing priorities (pdf) for the county court. 14/5/20

Northern Circuit – 'hybrid' and 'in person' trials proposal - HHJ Bird and HHJ Wood QC, the DCJs for Greater Manchester and Cheshire/Merseyside, are both actively exploring the possibility of undertaking “hybrid trials” (judge and legal representatives in court with witnesses via video link) and full “in person” trials. They expect to be in a position to announce their plans soon. Link to the Tweet from the Northern Circuit containing link to the details (pdf). 14/5/20

Remote hearings – Commercial Court – COMBAR Guidance Note – Hardwicke Chambers have published basic guidance for Commercial Bar Association (COMBAR) members on best practice for remote hearings in the Commercial Court, to be read in conjunction with the Commercial Court Guide. 12/5/20

Crime – jury trials - Statement from the Lord Chancellor on the resumption of jury trials – announcement that the courts are now in a position to take some first steps towards the resumption of jury trials. A limited number of trials will take place, conducted safely and observing social distancing rules, at courts including the Old Bailey in London and at Cardiff Crown Court. 11/5/20


Wednesday 29 April 2020

Civil Circuit Guidance - The Judiciary has published a Civil Circuit Guidance page, detailing COVID-19 guidance issued in different circuits in England. Much of the guidance has already been detailed below but this is a good repository and please do check for updates. Currently contains guidance for: Midlands, Leicester and Northampton, Birmingham, Leeds, Humber, Sheffield, Preston, Manchester, Liverpool, Brighton, Bristol, Exeter Devon and Cornwall.

Telephone & video hearings update - How to join telephone and video hearings during coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak - HMCTS has updated its guidance on how to join telephone and video hearings during the coronavirus outbreak. 


Tuesday 28 April 2020

Coroners - Chief Coroner's Guidance No.37 – supplemental guidance from the Chief Coroner re Covid-19 and potential exposure in the workplace


Friday 24 April 2020

Guidance for the Conduct of Remote Costs Hearings – Courts and Tribunals Judiciary guidance addresses the remote conduct of the following costs hearings throughout the period of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: detailed assessment hearings; oral review hearings of provisional assessments listed pursuant to a CPR 47.15(7) request; and application hearings in which the court is invited to certify.

Covid-19 - Guidance for Courts – Northern Ireland - The Office of the Lord Chief Justice guidance, which applies until 30 June 2020, replaces previous guidance from 24 March 2020. It provides advice for courts in Northern Ireland on: the reviews of cases listed for hearing in the Court of Appeal and High Court; the forthcoming review of cases listed for hearing in all other courts; the arrangements for Grants of Representation, Probate; and listing of Preliminary Enquiries for hearing where the defendant is in custody.


Thursday 23 April 2020

CCMCC performance information - On 23 April 2020, the County Court Money Claims Centre (CCMCC) reported that it is currently receiving a high volume of chase-up emails. To assist in prioritising urgent work, it has requested that customers do not send such emails without first checking the CCMCC's current processing times and confirming that the relevant time has passed.


Wednesday 22 April 2020

QB Guidance Bulletins – Gordon Exall has helpfully grouped together the six QB bulletins to date on one page Queen’s Bench Guidance Bulletins: summaries and links – Civil Litigation Brief


Monday 20 April 2020

Sunderland County Court – one of our legal advisers has received an Order from Sunderland County Court confirming that all Fast Track trials listed up to and including 29 May 2020 are adjourned and will be relisted on the application of the claimant in the Trial window 3 August to 27 November 2020, unless the parties agree it can be resolved remotely. See redacted Order for further details.

Court and Tribunal building status: the Law Society has published an interactive heatmap showing which courts and tribunal buildings are open. It will be updated as and when data becomes available.


Thursday 16 April 2020

Uxbridge County Court – email from Admin Officer "… Due to Covid 19 Uxbridge County Court is closed until further notice and all hearings up until 30 June have been adjourned. You will receive a new hearing date at some stage in the future…"

QB – Foreign Process Section – 5th bulletin - Master Fontaine has set out some more detailed information in relation to the work of the Foreign Process Section during the current restrictions. The bulletin explains the constraints under which the Foreign Process Section is currently operating. See also Order dated 25 Mar 2020. QB, 16 Apr 2020


Wednesday 15 April

Remote hearings - Cross jurisdictional guidance (pdf) - Message from the Lord Chief Justice, Master of the Rolls and President of the Family Division for Circuit and District Judges sitting in Civil and Family. Includes lessons learned from the last three weeks and comments on listing and conduct of hearings. Judiciary, 15 Apr 2020. See also Gazette, 16 Apr 2020

119th Practice Direction Update to the Civil Procedure Rules – Online Civil Money Claims in support of the Covid-19 effort: The Master of the Rolls and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice have signed amendments to Practice Direction 51R in relation to the Online Civil Money Claims (OCMC) pilot scheme. The PD amendments made by this Update come into force on 14 April 2020 and apply in relation to all claims submitted to the court on or after 11.00 a.m. on that date. Judiciary, 15 Apr 2020 (Note: Although these modifications are being expedited in support of the Covid-19 effort, they are being made as part of the ongoing process of building the Online Civil Money Claims process under Court Reform and as such, unless varied, they remain in force under the current terms of PD51R, which has a review date of 30 November 2021)

Remote hearings - advocacy guidance - the Inns of Court College of Advocacy has produced a succinct guide “Principles for Remote Advocacy”. The guide concentrates on the way in which advocates can most efficiently deploy their professional skills in communication and persuasion in the new working environment. It aims to distil existing experience into a set of principles to enable everyone to approach a remote hearing with confidence and do their job effectively. ICCA ,15 Apr 2020

Remote hearings – practical guide - Northern Circuit: Civil Trial by Video - Do's and Don'ts (pdf) – practical tips for before the hearing, skeleton arguments, agendas and reading lists, the day of the hearing and responsibilities. Northern Circuit, 15 Apr 2020


Tuesday 14 April 2020

Information on the Senior Courts Costs Office, Central London County Court and Mayors & City Court included in the Royal Courts of Justice Operational Update: The Royal Courts of Justice operational update 14 April 2020 (pdf)

Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire: HHJ Godsmark QC has issued the listing and hearing protocol set out below for all civil courts in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire. Kindly reproduced here by Gordon Exall

Coronavirus (Covid-19): Impact on the Court Funds Office: This page explains how the Court Funds Office is affected by the coronavirus pandemic. MOJ, 14 Apr 2020

HMCTS telephone and video hearings during coronavirus outbreak– HMCTS has updated its guidance on telephone and video hearings during the coronavirus outbreak. HMCTS, 14 Apr 2020

Courts and tribunals data on audio and video technology use during coronavirus outbreak - These figures, reported by individual courts and tribunals, provide an indicative estimate of the number of hearings that have taken place using audio and video technology in HMCTS since 19 March 2020. The figures were drawn together rapidly and specifically in response to the coronavirus outbreak. HMCTS, 14 Apr 2020


Thursday 9 April 2020

Humber Group of Courts (pdf): (undated) guidance from DCJ, HHJ Sarah Richardson incorporating all up-to-date guidance given up to 3 April 2020. Covers remote hearings, FT & SCT trials, MT cases, variation of timetables bundles & filing, and electronic signatures.

Northumbria & Durham, Teesside (pdf): revised guidance from HHJ Freedman and HHJ Gargan on issues similar to the above. Updates the listing information, maintains 90 day extensions on MT, and on electronic signatures confirms this includes witness statements and disclosure statements.

Lancashire & Cumbria (pdf): general guidance dated 27 March from DCJ, HHJ Beech.

Courts and tribunals tracker list during coronavirus outbreak: HMCTS has updated its tracker list on the courts & tribunals open to the public during the coronavirus outbreak. HMCTS, 9 Apr 2020

CCMCC updated operational bulletin (pdf): on 7 April, the CCMCC published an Operational Bulletin incorporating an updated version of its customer FAQs.

How to join telephone and video hearings during coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak: HMCTS has published a guide for people who have been asked to join a hearing by telephone or video using BT MeetMe, Skype for Business or Cloud Video Platform (CVP) during the coronavirus outbreak. The guidance explains the preparation required for remote hearings, how to join these hearings and what will happen after the hearing. HMCTS, 8 Apr 2020


Tuesday 7 April 2020

South Yorkshire Civil: Covid listing and hearing protocol - HHJ Robinson, the DCJ for South Yorkshire, has published a listing and hearing protocol for all court users. It covers matters including, the status of the court buildings, listing priorities, the conduct of hearings, adjourned hearings, and orders. This is reproduced in full by Gordon Exall here.

(Different from notice below) Cases proceeding in Birmingham High Court (QBD) and County Court: Guidance from the DCJ - HHJ Worster: the Acting Designated Civil Judge for Birmingham has issued the following guidance in relation to cases proceeding in the QBD at Birmingham High Court and Birmingham County Court. The guidance, reproduced in full by Gordon Exall here, contains more substantive issues than the earlier notice posted today. Covers matters including, trials of claims on all tracks, applications, electronic bundles, and guidance for emailed core bundles.

Notice from Birmingham County Court – practical information about arrangements for hearings now that the County Court Building is closed.

Medical records - Northern Care Alliance Letter - Letter from the NCA covering Salford, Oldham, Bury, Rochdale and North Manchester. Covers their approach to litigation but also draws attention "to the fact that at present, we do not have capacity to copy medical records; we will need to review this in the coming weeks, subject to the progress in fighting COVID-19."

QB update  – Court Funds Office – an update on making deposits electronically and also on payments out of the CFO


Monday 6 April 2020

Civil update for North and West Yorkshire: new guidance today from the DCJ – Civil Litigation Brief – Gordon Exall has reproduced new guidance from HHJ Gosnell for courts in North and West Yorkshire. Includes details on the resumption of hearings on the various tracks and how they can be dealt with, along with guidance on bundles and communications with the court.

Court guidance: a condensed view of the guidance given by courts in and around Manchester | Coronavirus: guidance for lawyers and businesses At a time when many courts have issued detailed guidance as to how to continue working Sophie Hurst of Kings Chambers  provides  condensed guidance of practices in the courts in the north.


Friday 3 April 2020

QB update – provides an update on the new Practice Directions and also the following on electronic signatures: During this period when most court users are working remotely, often without secure access to scanning technology the QB Action Department has received a number of queries from court users as to whether documents filed with the court bearing either no signatures or electronic signatures are acceptable. Rule 5.3 permits any document that is required to be signed to be signed “if the signature is printed by computer or other mechanical means.” The QB Action Department will accept all documents signed with electronic signatures, but documents that are unsigned will not be accepted.

Police interview protocol – The Law Society has worked with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) on a coronavirus (COVID-19) interview protocol. This guidance is intended to assist investigators and prosecutors in deciding whether suspects should be interviewed as part of a police investigation during the coronavirus pandemic. It will be reviewed monthly from 1 April 2020 and is intended for use only during the coronavirus crisis. See also Gazette coverage.


Thursday 2 April 2020

Practice Direction 51ZA - Extension of Time Limits and Clarification of PD51Y - Coronavirus
Practice Direction 51ZA principally relates to the extension of time limits during the Coronavirus pandemic. The PD is effective immediately i.e. from today, 2 April 2020
The main changes effected by this PD are:

  • Allows the parties to agree an extension up to 56 days without formally notifying the court (rather than the current 28 days), so long as that does not put a hearing date at risk;
  • Any extension of more than 56 days needs to be agreed by the court;
  • The court is required to take into account the impact of the pandemic in considering such applications, as well as applications for adjournment and relief from sanction;
  • The PD also clarifies the audio and video hearing PD 51Y (the 116th PD Update) by making clear that a person seeking permission to listen to or view a recording of a hearing may do so by request and is not required to make a formal application under the CPR.

The PD ceases to have effect on 30th October 2020.
The position will remain under review. See also 118th PD Making document and CPR homepage


Wednesday 1 April 2020

APIL and FOIL Best Practice Guidance for Mutual Co-Operation (pdf): APIL and FOIL have set up a working party to discuss various aspects of members’ work, which have been affected during the coronavirus outbreak. A set of best practices have been agreed ad it is recommended that APIL and FOIL's members consider and adopt where possible. Covers: telephone calls/email; service by email inc. new proceedings; service of ongoing proceedings; medical examinations; exchange of evidence; extensions of time; remote hearings; adjournments; interim payments; BACS payments; costs budgeting; and limitation.
See also Gazette coverage Defendant and claimant lawyers agree relaxed litigation rules

Scotland specific provisions: the above guidance also includes Scotland specific provisions. Note though that ABI, APIL, FOIL, MASS have agreed a Limitation Protocol for Scotland (pdf) which has been circulated separately.

HMCTS message to civil users (pdf): HMCTS asks professional court users to only submit new personal injury claims (either Part 7 or Part 8) where absolutely necessary, for example those claims that are approaching limitation. The handling of these and the associated fee processes are causing particularly (sic) challenges at this time.

Manchester guidance from the DCJ (pdf): see "Note on Covid-19 Orders, Temporary Procedures and Listing Priorities"

Business and Property Courts in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester & Newcastle: Mr Justice Snowden, Vice-Chancellor of the County Palatine of Lancaster has send out COVID-19 Update Number 1.  The update provides a position summary a guide for urgent applications. Kindly reproduced by Gordon Exall here

Birkenhead County Court – Part 8 stayed claims – back to back disposals – Stage 3 RTA lists: 3 more guidance notes from the Birkenhead District Judges. One addresses the significant number of Part 8 claims stayed pursuant to 8BPD.16; one provides guidance on the practical operation of the Stage 3 lists;and one provides further guidance on how the back to back disposal list will be managed, including instructions the hearing itself, on bundles and the filing of documents.

Birkenhead County Court – Part 8 infant approvals – please don't call: as you will be aware Part 8 Infant Approval appointments are now being conducted on paper with no parties in attendance as directed by the District Judges. The court politely asks parties not to call or email for the outcome, but to wait until the order is drawn and sent out.

Court Funds Office – BACS: the CFO will now accept electronic documentation and payment by BACS. The change has not yet been included in the HMCTS announcements but FOIL has spoken with the CFO, which confirmed that electronic versions of the deposit form and the court order can be sent by email: enquiries@cfo.gov.uk. Upon receipt, the CFO will supply BACS details and a case number to enable payment to be made. The CFO can be contacted on 0300 020 0199 – a skeleton staff remains in place.

Updated - Civil Justice in England and Wales: Protocol regarding Remote Hearings: previously published on 22 March. New paragraph 6A referring to new Practice Direction 51Y “Video or Audio Hearings During Coronavirus Pandemic”


Tuesday 31 March 2020

HMCTS daily update: attention is drawn in the above update to the following *new* update:

Supreme Court - the Supreme Court has published a page of advice and guidance for all Court users during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Arrangements during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

Administrative Court: The Administrative Court has issued a number of notices relating to their Covid-19 arrangements. These are not yet on the court website.  However they are available from the ILPA website Administrative Court Office Notices (March 2020) [h/t Gordon Exall]

Birkenhead County Court: We've received an update from 25 March which contains details on how hearings listed there will proceed. Update attached along with instructions for infant approvals. (Note, this predates the update from 27 March below). See Birkenhead email and infant approval instructions.

CCMCC processing times: the County Court Money Claims Centre (Salford) and the County Court Business Centre (Northampton) have provided an update on the processing of work at the CCMCC in light of the Covid-19 outbreak. Read more

Government Legal Department - contact: The service of new legal proceedings should be via email. Read more


Monday 30 March 2020

HMCTS daily operational summary on courts and tribunals during coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak -  a daily summary of the HMCTS operational position during the coronavirus pandemic. See in particular the section on the High Court and Court of Appeal:


Friday 27 March 2020

Priority courts scheme - from Monday 30 March - HMCTS are consolidating the work of courts and tribunals into fewer buildings - some are open to the public, some buildings are staffed but are not open to the public, and some courts are suspended and the buildings are temporarily closed. , HMCTS say the ‘staffed courts’ will support video and telephone hearings, progress cases without hearings and ensure continued access to justice. Link includes detailed spreadsheet tracking all courts and tribunals: Priority courts to make sure justice is served - GOV.UK

County Court Money Claims Centre publishes customer FAQs - On 27 March 2020, the County Court Money Claims Centre circulated customer FAQs (dated 26 March 2020) in response to the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. See PDF of FAQs

Birkenhead – updated guidance – SCT, FT & MT matters – contains details on the moving of SCT hearings, extensions on FT directions & trial windows, and extensions on MT directions and CCMCs. See PDF for full details.

Birmingham – BPC – standard directions for remote hearings by Skype – St Philips Chambers have published these directions Covid 19- Standard directions for remote hearings by Skype in the Business and Property Courts - Birmingham

QBD – updated notification regarding the Queen's Bench Interim Applications Court – contains guidance on electronic documentation to be sent for interim applications. See PDF.

CPR - 117th PD Update – Possession proceedings - The Master of the Rolls and the Lord Chancellor have signed Practice Direction 51Z (PD) in relation to housing possession proceedings during the Coronavirus pandemic. Civil - Civil Procedure Rules


Thursday 26 March 2020

Chief Coroner - guidance - The Chief Coroner has issued guidance on the Coronavirus which can be found here Chief Coroner Guidance - Covid-19 (pdf)

Liverpool - Pending any CPR rule change (temporary) standard directions following DQs now extending periods of compliance by 12 weeks UFN, ie 16 weeks in total.  Liverpool Civil Court on Twitter

Newcastle and Durham – guidance from HHJ Freedman  - includes information on the vacation of SCT and FT trials up to 9 April; allows extensions of up to 90 days on MT directions and explains when you need to let the court know; allows electronic signatures. Source: Twitter, 25 Mar 2020

SRA update - contains links to a range of information to support the legal community. 25 Mar 2020

HMCTS update - daily operational summaries starting today. See also judiciary link relating to the new Practice Direction 51Y. 25 Mar 2020

Coronavirus Act 2020 - received Royal Assent on 25 Mar 2020 

Virtual Hearings - articles on 2 recent participant-heavy virtual hearings, and some practical tips:


Wednesday 25 March 2020

Practice Direction on Video or Audio Hearings in Civil Proceedings during the Coronavirus Pandemic - this is a technical amendment, which clarifies the manner in which the court may exercise its discretion to conduct hearings remotely in private. It also clarifies what steps the court may make to ensure access by the public to remote hearings that have been held in private. See CPR homepage and 116th PD making document (PDF)

QB - an update to the QB Masters hearings guidance. Kindly reproduced by Gordon Exall  

Liverpool Civil Courts - new Twitter account - set up by HHJ Wood QC DCJ and managed by judges and staff for the latest information on how the courts are affected by Covid 19 and how business will be managed Liverpool Civil Court (@court_civil) | Twitter

ABI COVID-19 Personal Injury Protocol – limitation frozen - with immediate effect and for a minimum of 4 weeks a protocol has been agreed whereby all limitation dates in all personal injury cases are frozen and claimants undertake to respond constructively to defendant requests for extension of time to serve a defence. There is an escalation process and a hotline by way of support. ABI, 24 March 2020

MedCo - Remote Examinations – ban temporarily suspended - with immediate effect and until further notice, the ban on remote video medical examinations for the purposes of MedCo reports has been suspended. The Board maintain their position that remote examination is not routinely appropriate and will keep the position closely under review.  The ban will be reinstated at the earliest possible opportunity. See Medco update for conditions that must be adhered to if you intend to use remote video medical examinations. See also Temporary Measures Update in response to a number of issues raised by Users in recent weeks and the rapid development of Government policy and advice. MedCo, 23 Mar 2020.

Birkenhead County Court – RTA hearings - Stage 3 lists - in operation from 24 Mar 2020: for as long as we continue to operate, please note the system that we will attempt to operate for stage 3 lists at Birkenhead from 24 March 2020:

  1. The hearings will take place remotely using BT meet me facilities.

  2. The Judge will dial out to you at the time of the hearing.

  3. That means that each night before the next day’s list,  you need to check the lists on COURTEL and email Rachel Beddows on rachel.beddows@justice.gov.uk with your name, which case/s  you are appearing on and your contact phone number.

  4. You will then be called at or around the time of the hearing which will be conducted by phone and recorded by the court.

  5. IT IS VITAL THAT YOU TRY AND NARROW ISSUES OR IF YOU CAN, SETTLE ANY HEADS OF DAMAGE to ensure that we can get through the lists.

Manchester - Notice from the DJC, HHJ Bird - "All face-to-face hearings due to take place today and up to and including Tuesday 31 March 2020 are hereby adjourned..." See Gordon Exall post

Birmingham County Court – voicemail message received from the court "we are not having any fast track trials or face to face hearings taking place at Birmingham, with immediate effect.24 Mar 2020

County Court (all?) –  Lamb Chambers update includes  the following statement from the Chair of the Chancery Bar Association: “The ChBA has been informed by HHJ Johns that the senior judiciary have decided that no hearings which require people to attend are now to take place in the County Court until further notice, unless there is genuine urgency and no remote hearing is possible. All cases currently being heard will be adjourned part heard so that arrangements can be made, where possible, to conduct the hearing remotely.  So far as the Central London County Court is concerned, all face to face hearings at Central London today are being adjourned to a date to be fixed so you do not need to attend.  We cannot say what the position is in other courts at this point.” 24 Mar 2020

Scotland - Court Arrangements from 25 March – the Scottish Courts and Tribunals has released its latest COVID-19 update on its homepage. See details here


Monday 23 March 2020

Merseyside Guidance - from HHJ Graham Wood QC - Covid-19 arrangements and temporary measures at Liverpool and Chester County Court and other courts in the Cheshire and Merseyside cluster for CIVIL WORK. Includes, details of lists being vacated - SCT, FT and M-T, (cases can exceptionally be kept in the list on request), and guidance for infant approvals and practical measures for dealing with remote hearings. Source: Twitter, 23 Mar 2020

North & West Yorkshire and Leeds DR: HHJ Gosnell has issued the following Listing Protocol kindly reproduced by Gordon Exall 

West Yorkshire Courts - for a full user guide to conducting remote hearings, in West Yorkshire Courts, please click here (pdf)Parklane Plowden Chambers, 23 Mar 2020

Review of court arrangements due to COVID-19, message from the Lord Chief Justice - Confirms that no new trials will start this week and jurors summoned for today are told to stay at home. Efforts should be made to bring existing trials to conclusion if possible. On Civil Cases, he says "Guidance has already been given about the use of remote hearings (see below). Hearings requiring the physical presence of parties and their representatives and others should only take place if a remote hearing is not possible and if suitable arrangements can be made to ensure safety." Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, 23 Mar 2020

Civil Court guidance on how to conduct remote hearings - The protocol (attached) has been produced to assist with the operation of civil justice during the COVID-19 pandemic. Includes guidance on steps to take when hearings are fixed, the remote hearing itself, and preparation for the hearings in terms of electronic bundles. Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, 22 Mar 2020

Key workers in the legal sector - Legal professionals involved in court and tribunal hearings, as well as those advising people deprived of their liberty or on executing wills are ‘keyworkers’, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has said.

Coronavirus BillCoronavirus Bill 2019-21 — UK Parliament The Bill will have all its stages in the House of Commons on 23 March 2020


Friday 20 March 2020

Applications to adjourn civil and family hearings because of coronavirus (COVID-19) - New HMCTS Guidance. The Lord Chancellor has authorised that in certain cases the fee can be waived for applications to adjourn a civil or family hearing. HMCTS, 20 Mar 2020

Birkenhead County Court - Stage 3 Hearings & Disposals - Memo circulated looking at proposals to deal with stage 3 hearings by Skype or Microsoft Teams and the logistics of this. Thoughts invited on how this might work.

Manchester County Court & QBD - Temporary Measures - see letter from the Manchester DCJ, HHJ Bird on the 'Temporary Measures' which will apply to county court cases in Greater Manchester and to general Queen’s Bench Division work. Covers hearings, applications and correspondence. Kindly reproduced by Gordon Exall Civil Court users in Manchester: Guidance from the Designated Civil Judge – Civil Litigation Brief

Commercial Court - comment from Teare J (in charge of the Commercial Court) reported on Twitter - see link to Tweet and comment below:

Comment by Teare J

Key Workers list now published. Includes “those essential to the running of the justice system” Guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining educational provision - GOV.UK.  Susan Acland-Hood, CEO of HMCTS agrees on Twitter that this includes "lawyers working within the criminal justice system at Courts, police stations and prisons" Link to Twitter thread.


Thursday 19 March 2020

Coronavirus Bill introduced - 329 pages - Coronavirus Bill 2019-21 — UK Parliament

Lord Chief Justice - new guidance from the LCJ this morning Coronavirus (COVID-19): Message from the Lord Chief Justice to judges in the Civil and Family Courts | Courts and Tribunals Judiciary


Wednesday 18 March 2020

Lord Chancellor's statement -Courts during coronavirus pandemic: Robert Buckland statement - GOV.UK – 18 March 2020

Coronavirus Bill
Press release: Emergency bill to strengthen coronavirus (COVID-19) response plans - GOV.UK - New laws will be introduced to protect public health, increase NHS capacity, strengthen social care and support the public to take the right action at the right time.
Guidance: What the coronavirus bill will do - GOV.UK

HMCTS: telephone & video hearing guidance (more of a criminal procedure slant but some comment on civil) HMCTS telephone and video hearings during coronavirus outbreak - GOV.UK

QBD update: counter closures and info on fees and bundles plus list of email addresses Royal Courts of Justice: Updated counter arrangements for the Queen's Bench Division

Court of Appeal update: counter closures and email addresses Royal Courts of Justice: Updated counter arrangements for the Court of Appeal Civil Division


Tuesday 17 March 2020

Lord Chief Justice Announcements 17 March 2020
Coronavirus: Jury trials, message from the Lord Chief Justice | Courts and Tribunals Judiciary
Coronavirus update from the Lord Chief Justice | Courts and Tribunals Judiciary

Coronavirus: No jury trials longer than three days in England and Wales - BBC News – 17 March 2020
Coronavirus: Business as usual 'not realistic' says lord chief justice | News | Law Gazette – 17 March 2020

Supreme Court
Registry update: Registry update: Time limits for filing documents in the Supreme Court and JCPC - The Supreme Court - 17 March 2020

MedCo - CORONAVIRUS - UPDATE - 17 March 2020 | Medco - The ban on the use of video examinations will not be lifted at this time.